An Inglewood man faces up to 20 years behind bars when he is sentenced Thursday for smuggling five monitor lizards into the United States — two of which died while they were being shipped.
Gayle Simpson, 34, pleaded guilty in September to a single federal count of smuggling monitor lizards that were shipped from the Philippines.
The case against Simpson stems from a package intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last spring. The package, which was labeled “speakers” and was addressed to Simpson’s son, contained five monitor lizards: three spiny-necked water monitor lizards, one Samar water monitor lizard, and one Palawan water monitor lizard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Two of the monitor lizards arrived dead, and a third had suffered a crushed foot. All five are protected under CITES, an international agreement which aims to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant specimens does not threaten their survival.
A subsequent search warrant executed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Simpson’s home resulted in the seizure of four yellow-headed water monitor lizards and two spiny-necked water monitor lizards, prosecutors said.